How a simple creators mark became one of the world’s most popular quilt blocks
If you look at the images of Dresden porcelain plates, it might be difficult to discern right away how these incredible works of art were somehow turned into the world famous quilt blocks we know of today. This would be because the Dresden Plate quilt block has nothing to do with the delicate paintings on the top of these porcelain plates. Instead, they have everything to do with what’s painted on the bottom.
The Dresden Porcelain
Located in Northeast Germany lies the city of Dresden. If you were a painter, sculptor or artist of any kind during the Victorian era, Dresden was the place to be. It was, by many accounts, an important center of the ‘romanticism’ movement. Being the capital of Saxony and so close to the nearby city of Meissen where the porcelain was made, it gave rise to hundreds of ceramic decorating studios throughout the 19th century.
Today, many people think of the Dresden plate or the Dresden figurines as an actual person or company. The truth is, the term really defines the artistic movement as a whole. An ‘art deco’ if you will. Many of the famed Dresden porcelain pieces were created by a group of painters: Karl Richard Klemm, Donath & Co, Oswald Lorenz, and Adolf Hamman. This group did not actually make the porcelain. In truth, they purchased the pieces created in nearby Meissen then painted their artwork on top.
The “Dresden style” became so popular it was hard to tell one artist from the next. So, to set their work apart from all the other porcelain artists in town the group of men created and registered their own mark or “trademark” called the famous blue crown Dresden porcelain mark.
Under the umbrella of this mark, the four painters created an array of exquisite porcelain dinnerware and figurines. They also used the process of “porcelain lace” on many of their figures. It was one sure fire way to know if you had a true Dresden piece.
Did you know…
What does this have to do with the Dresden Plate Quilt Block?
Even though the Dresden Plate quilt block pattern did not become popular until the 1920’s, it doesn’t seem the block actually began as the full circular pattern.
Going back as far as the late 1800’s, the Dresden Plate Fan was used in quilt examples. Many seeming to be made of wool, then later of cotton. They were pieced and appliqued. Eventually, four of the fans were put together to make the full Dresden Plate quilt block circle we use today.
Sadly, during the allied bombings of WWII, many of the original work and records are lost to history. However, we do know that the original blue crown mark included 2 or 3 “petals”.
Due to so much of the history being lost during the war, there is no real way to prove the blue cross Dresden porcelain mark was the true inspiration for the Dresden Plate quilt block we know today. Or, perhaps the mark was inspired by the block. Either way, based on the timeline and popularity of the Dresden style, it stands to reason the two could very well be linked.
What are your thoughts on the origin of the Dresden Plate quilt block? Have you made a Dresden quilt? You can share in the comments, share it in our Facebook group or even send me an email. I love hearing from you!
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